Recently I have learned some very interesting facts concerning Temptation. I was having difficulty in a particular area of my life and had temporary success, but soon fell back into the habit once again. Strange that when I picked up my devotional, it was about temptation and how one should deal with it.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
– Mark 14:38
This verse in particular struck me pretty hard. I’ve known this verse for quite a while, and at one time learned of its significance with Jesus’ last few hours before His crucifixion. But what made me think was the fact that as long as we watch out for temptation, we can avoid it. I know my weaknesses, the places I am most prone to give in, and if I’m careful, I can successfully avoid a number of temptations. It’s only a matter of watching.
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
– Ephesians 6:11-13
Our battle with temptation, of course, is against spiritual forces and not ones of flesh and bone. Only preparation of our mind and spirit can we withstand the enemy’s attacks. If we develop our character and strengthen our relationship with God through meditation on His Word, we will be prepared to stand against the enemy when we are attacked. Also, when evil thoughts enter your mind, it is impossible to push them away. You can only remove a thought by concentrating on another. That’s why people often say that in the face of temptation, counter the attack with scripture. As you focus on the Word, you lose hold on the evil thoughts, therefore leading you to victory over them.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
– 1 Corinthians 10:12-13
So often I feel accomplished once I withstand temptation for several days, only to be humbled when I fall once I lose watch. But also, God will not let anyone be tempted beyond what they can bear. Temptations are sometimes used as trials, and success is definitely possible — the battle has already been won, remember? And there is always a way out of temptation, a choice. You can choose to give in, or you can run away into the arms of your Savior, where He will protect you from any attacks.
Last but not least, Mark 14:38 tells us to pray. A common option is to pray for someone else while you are being tempted. Target someone who isn’t a believer yet or is having difficulty somewhere in their life. Pray for whatever it is they need. In other words, while Satan is busy attacking you, you attack back by targeting someone currently under his control. Undermine him from behind, so that whenever he attacks, he gets attacked himself. In time, attacks from him will decrease because he knows that God will be working on someone else as he attacks you. I’ve also applied this command by praying for myself when I am not tempted. I tell God to help me stay strong and to say no in the face of temptation. I ask that no matter what, no matter what tactics I use to give in to temptation, may He make it impossible for me to fall. I also pray for my weaknesses, that I may grow stronger in those areas and have less footholds for the enemy to use.
Watch and pray, otherwise you will fall.